Menopause, even the surgical kind, is not a disease.
A woman’s body was created to go through this transition naturally, without interference. However, many women report challenges and symptoms, including hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, fatigue, and a roller coaster of emotions that leave them feeling overwhelmed, highly stressed, and out of balance. This affects their health, their relationships, and even their passion and sense of purpose. The more symptoms women have, the more hopeless and powerless they feel.
While every woman will one day arrive in menopause, the intensity and duration of symptoms will vary.
For me, menopause happened very suddenly. I went into a surgery to have an ovarian cyst removed and woke up having had a hysterectomy and in full-onset surgical menopause. This experience turned my world upside down. I struggled both physically and emotionally and I didn’t know how to help myself feel better again. I didn’t know how to regain my balance.
In my new book, Come Back Strong, I share my personal journey with hysterectomy and oophorectomy, which thrust me into sudden surgical menopause. I describe the vulnerable parts of my life, marriage, and experience, as well as the joys and celebrations that came from discovering a practical path back to balanced wellness.
In this first blog post, I’ll explain the difference between natural and surgical menopause. In the articles of this series to follow, I’ll share excerpts from my book that describe some of the tips and tools I used to reduce stress, improve my health, and strengthen my mind, body, and emotions.
The main difference between surgical menopause and natural menopause is the timeframe and intensity of the symptoms related to the transition. During natural menopause, symptoms appear gradually and are sometimes so subtle that we barely notice the changes; and when we do, we can tackle one or two symptoms at a time as they pop up.
By contrast, sudden menopause begins the moment the ovaries are surgically removed (oophorectomy) or are damaged by disease, radiation, chemotherapy, or other medications. This damage to or removal of the ovaries causes a sudden drop in estrogen and a deficit that will not be replenished due to missing ovaries and causes an immediate plunge into menopause.
That is what happened to me. Once my ovaries were removed, a flood of symptoms appeared. I got hit all at once while I was recovering from major surgery. I had no time to adjust to the difference in my hormone levels and I suddenly felt off balance in my body and life. The four months before my surgery and twenty months after were the darkest period of my life.
Surgical menopause rattled my cage and threatened to rob me of my confidence, sexuality, and motivation.
However, it was in the journey through the darkness that I discovered my purpose, deeper passions, and ultimately, joy. It was where I learned that setbacks are setups for comebacks.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series next week where I share about Serenity through Acceptance.
If you would like to read more about my story and how I found balanced wellness after surgical menopause, check out my book, Come Back Strong.